Are you practicing safe selfies? It might be time to examine your photo-clicking habits and put caution first. In late March, a man visiting the Grand Canyon from Hong Kong tripped while taking a photo, falling over a 1,000-foot rim to his death. According to a 2018 report in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 259 people died in 137 incidents in 2011-2017 while taking selfies.
Time and again, the smallest misstep, distraction or lapse in judgment has resulted in injury or death. To help raise awareness, the National Park Service published a guide to safe photos, and Yellowstone National Park created a pledge that people can take to protect themselves and the park. One way to practice that pledge, park officials state, is to practice safe selfies. "No picture is worth hurting yourself, others, or the park. Be aware of your surroundings whether near wildlife, thermal areas, roads, or steep cliffs," the website says.
Kathy Kupper, a spokeswoman for the Park Service, said when people are on vacation, they may not be looking for hazards in the same way they do in their everyday lives.
"We always strive to remind visitors that national parks are wild and natural places, and they are amazing, but people really need to prepare adequately and understand the hazards," she said. "We want everybody to have a great and memorable vacation and we don't want those memories to include an injury or a trip to the hospital."
Travel, whether in national parks or beyond, often involves risks. But taking selfies shouldn't be one of them. "No picture, no matter how fantastic, is worth injuring yourself or others," Kupper said. Remember to be alert and aware at all times when you're on the road. And consider putting that camera away to be in the moment and enjoy the view.